Thankful for Strong Women

I’ve been blessed with the examples set by strong women throughout my life. My mother was a teacher who always made sure that the school administration knew her opinions on important issues. She was also a firm believer of equal contribution in the home. I recall, when I was about 14, telling her that my football uniform needed to be washed. “You know where the washer is,” she replied.

My grandmothers were also determined, self-reliant women. My mother’s mother was the businesswoman for the family farm, and my father’s mother worked in a factory during the World War II era. She did her part to keep U.S. manufacturing going at home while other Americans went overseas. She eventually became an outstanding assembler for antennas that were used in the Mercury spacecraft.

One sister has taken on the difficult task of teaching children with medical problems; the other advocates for and treats the mental health needs of troubled adolescents. My wife Natalie is a retired physician, and our daughter Karen has a doctorate in chemistry and is a science writer.

At work, I recall with extreme fondness my past nurse Carol. Carol would stand up for patients no matter whom she irritated. My current nurse, Claudia, is a nurturing figure who takes anxious patients under her wing to ensure that they have a good experience in the office.

The campaign also features strong women—Nancy Fischman is the treasurer, while Lori Love is director of volunteers. Carter County party chair Kristi Carr was the first person to recognize me as a strong candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The women I’ve mentioned have impacted my life and our community in different ways. It is certainly important for the well-being of our society that all persons, including all women, are able to take advantages of all opportunities to contribute.

Some people equate women’s rights with access to contraception. I agree with others who proclaim that women’s rights are human rights. We must not overlook the importance of contraception in maintaining the health and the long-term ability of women to contribute to their communities.

As an Ob/Gyn physician, I’ve seen firsthand the struggles that some women face in obtaining birth control, whether it be for contraception or for other medical purposes, such as endometriosis, pelvic pain, or debilitating bleeding. I’ve also worked with patients who have pregnancies that endanger their health and welfare. Just like I believe that the government should not take away guns from law-abiding citizens, I also believe that the government should not interfere with discussions between a woman and her doctor.

We live in a time where a few people think that all contraception is wrong. Some even state that women who have life-threatening medical conditions made worse by pregnancy, or who have been raped, should be forced to continue their pregnancies. During my Ob/Gyn training decades ago, I assisted in the care of a woman who likely would have died if her pregnancy termination had been denied. This experience taught me that we must stand up for the rights of women and for the rights of all patients to keep their healthcare matters private. I have seen firsthand that contraception prevents abortions, and I feel that the government should not interfere with private healthcare matters. Such decisions are left up to patients and their own moral beliefs.

Support of women includes much more than supporting their access to contraception. Women work tirelessly for the health and welfare of our communities, yet they do not always enjoy the same privileges as men. Women are less likely to have health insurance. Women are more likely to be the primary healthcare providers for sick family members. Women are paid less than men for the same job. Women are harassed because of their gender. Let’s all work for a future where everyone is treated equally.